Words by Bill San Antonio | Photos by Nicole Mago

It was the kind of hot that made you think that if you stopped breathing, you’d actually be doing yourself a favor. Thick and moist, a faint breeze rolling in every few moments to remind you of the lightning storm that could – and, ultimately, did – strike New York City at any moment, for the second straight day, hours before America celebrated yet another year free of tyranny from the British Empire. Hurricane Arthur raged in the Carolinas, while in Brooklyn the Black Lips prepared to take the makeshift stage at the House of Vans, a nondescript warehouse building situated along Franklin Street, amid rows of other nondescript warehouse buildings and bodegas.

Clothing clung to skin while a large industrial fan spun overhead, curbing the raucous energy generated by Night Birds and Night Beats and kept at bay by free drinks, taco trucks and a PA system flirting with the likes of The Police, Whitney Houston and later even Ludacris.

And then a voice: “Yo, cut that music off.” Spotlights cut to black and, 10 minutes shy of 10 p.m., the band took the stage – two greasers, the lost white boy of NWA and a shaggy-haired fellow who sat behind a drum kit and adjusted the microphone in front of him.

Then the Black Lips erupted into a frenetic, hour-long set spanning its decade-plus-long career of love letters to early garage rock, amplified and exquisitely distorted for the Coachella generation, highlighted by cuts off its latest LP, Underneath the Rainbow. The show was among the band’s first with guitarist Jack Hines in more than a decade, as he rejoined the band in the last week upon the recent departure of Ian St. Pé. Hines helped lay down rhythms for the band’s vocal trip, bassist Jared Swilley, guitarist Cole Alexander and drummer Joe Bradley, who ping-ponged off each other with ease.

Boys and girls danced in the night like Vincent Vega and Mia Wallus trying to win that trophy, slowly and deliberately and with passion. The House of Vans became Arnold’s restaurant for hipsters and punks, the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” video on blow instead of heroin. Laughs. Drinks. Pictures. A boy with long hair and a natty beard throwing himself on the floor, grinning and then blowing a kiss to a tall girl in high-waisted jean shorts, combat boots and an unbuttoned flannel shirt. The Lips played and then they stopped, thanking Brooklyn and adjusting their quaffs, leaving into the night the kings of New York.


TheWaster.com | BK